David Mizejewski / NWF
Seattle Audubon encourages cat owners, current and future, to keep their feline friends indoors as this is better for both pets and native bird and animal populations.
Keep Cats Indoors… For the Birds!
Cats are amazing predators. Even if you don’t see your cat catching wildlife, they may still be hunting. Certainly some cats are better hunters than others, but researchers estimate that outdoor, free-roaming cats kill an estimated 2.4 billion birds per year in the US. Additionally, cat bites can cause serious infections in birds, and the presence of cats near nest sites can significantly reduce the health of chicks and decrease overall nest success. Birds aren’t the only target of cats; small mammals and other wildlife in North America are killed and injured through cat predation. Keeping your cat indoors is a simple way to do your part in protecting our bird species.
Keep Cats Indoors… For the Cats!
It’s well proven that keeping your cats indoors helps keep them healthy, avoiding many risks. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 1-5 years, while indoor cats may live up to 20 years! Free-roaming, outdoor cats are at risk of predation and attacks from other animals, traffic collisions, poisoning, and other dangers. Cats can additionally contract diseases and fleas, often times from other pets or feral cats. Caring for pets indoors will support the safety and health of your cat long term.
Cats & Birds: Common Misconceptions
Below are several myths surrounding outdoor cats and their impacts on wildlife. Click to read the truth!
Myth: Cats do not have a significant impact on bird populations.
Truth: As introduced and invasive predators, outdoor cats kill instinctively and indiscriminately. Research has found that cats currently threaten a large proportion of at-risk bird and mammal species. Our native bird species have little natural defense against outdoor cats, resulting in population decline.
Myth: Cats don't hunt birds if they're well-fed
Truth: Even well-fed cats will continue to hunt, which means that they are often more fit and capable hunters.
Myth: Bells prevent cats from catching birds
Truth: Birds don’t recognize a soft, tinkling bell as an alarm and will not scare away in time. Cats can learn to walk soundlessly, even with a bell.
Myth: Only feral cats are the problem
Truth: Feral cats are only part of the problem. Of the 2.4 billion birds killed by cats per year, nearly a third were killed by domestic pets. Feral populations can build to high numbers, and domestic cats will tolerate close quarters with feral cats and even live together.
Tips for Bringing a Cat Indoors
Training a cat that’s used to being outside is difficult, but it can be done. One important approach is to gradually adjust the amount of time they spend outside. Providing plenty of entertainment, access to windows, scratching posts, and toys will also enrich their new indoor lives. PAWS Wildlife Center, the Humane Society, and The American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors program provides resources to transition your outdoor cat indoors successfully and smoothly.
Tafi / Hanae Bettencourt
Bean / Hanae Bettencourt
Sign up for the Seattle Conservation Activist Network (SCAN) to be notified of advocacy opportunities for the protection of birds.